It’s official: HTML5 is hot once again. For the past year, many of the wishes that all HTML5 developers have been waiting for have finally come true. All major browsing technologies support the main HTML5 features that make this technology a great option to develop beautiful desktop sites and compelling mobile apps. The latest addition to the list of iOS 8 with its official support for WebGL and improved webview called WKWebView with Nitro JIT acceleration, has been widely applauded by the community. And there are plenty of other reasons to be happy if you are an HTML5 developer, as the runtime environment that will run your app or game is a major issue that has been holding back the widespreading of the web as a major development platform (specially on mobile) for the last years.
There are many articles out there around performance benchmarks of the current browsers. Chromium based solutions for Android, Internet Explorer supporting the main HTML5 specifications (and auto updating itself quite regularly), plenty of great app development frameworks, … the list of good news is long. And here at Ludei, we are glad that, finally, all the pieces are starting to come together. But (there is always a but ;)), we have been reading much about a concept we do not agree with, and is the apocaliptic calling to “the end of the wrapping technologies” for mobile web applications. Ludei has been providing great tools and technology for HTML5 developers for the last couple of years.
Ludei’s developer community has grown strong to 50,000 developers and more than 4,500 apps published on mobile markets. We are going to continue to provide a great development experience and the best tools and runtimes as long as they continue to come out to the market. But there is a reality we still know about: building compelling mobile web apps is not simple. And we are not just talking about developing the app itself. Some frameworks are getting mature, some are starting to show their potential, but there is a detail worth mentioning: the mobile space is not the same as desktop web app development.
- First of all, mobile users are used to and feel comfortable with app stores, so they want apps. Building an app is not a major issue, but still, lots of web developers do not want to face all the hassle of installing native SDKs, compile applications and moreover, update multiple tools to be able to create their final mobile apps.
- But not only this, successful apps need access to native SDKs and mobile features that may vary from one platform to the other, or even from one store to the other. We are talking about in-app payments, ad networks, push notifications, social network SDK integrations, etc.
- Additionally (and sadly), there is still not one runtime environment solution that fits all and not plenty of good tools to test and debug apps on mobile. At Ludei, we have developed our own HTML5 runtime environments (Canvas+ and WebView+) and we also provide access to use the system web browsing technologies. This way, developers can choose what works best for them depending on their app. Even our canvas only technology, Canvas+, has plenty of advantages that some other technologies do not have for some type of apps (mainly games): low footprint, advanced memory management, extensions, accelerated physics, full control over the runtime (crucial for some customers), etc.
All these features are what wrapping technologies like Ludei’s CocoonJS or Apache Cordova provide: A productive way of testing, creating and monetizing HTML5 mobile apps. The bottom line is, that we are far from a mobile browser only app and game market. App stores on mobile will continue to exist, and actually, that’s the beauty of HTML5, your product can exist in both environments (as a browser based discoverable app and a mobile app store app). Mobile web app development is here to stay and grow and wrapping technologies are far from being at their end, moreover, in our opinion, they are at their infancy.